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Facebook to test reduced visibility of political content in Ireland, Spain and Sweden – EURACTIV.com

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Facebook is reportedly extending the testing of making political content less visible in its News Feed to at least three EU countries following positive user feedback.

The social media giant’s plans to expand their policy to Ireland, Spain and Sweden were reported in American news website Axios. The policy of reducing the visibility of political stories was launched at the beginning of the year in the United States, Canada, Brazil and Indonesia.

“We plan to keep civic and political groups out of recommendations for the long term, and we plan to expand that policy globally. To be clear, this is a continuation of work we’ve been doing for a while to turn down the temperature and discourage divisive conversations and communities,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg when announcing the policy last year.

Facebook’s move seems to be driven by the polarised US political climate, which reached a peak in the Capitol Hill attacks on 6 January, when supporters of outgoing President Trump stormed the US Congress. Social media were pointed to as key factors in inciting the rioters, and are frequently criticised for spreading political disinformation.

The positive user feedback has encouraged the online platform to expand the pilot to several other countries, including Ireland, Spain and Sweden. Political content online accounts for 6% of Facebook content, according to the platform’s own assessment.

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Depoliticised content

Emma Llansó, Director of the Free Expression Project at the Centre for Democracy & Technology (CDT) welcomed the fact the social network was testing “how users respond to political content.”

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“Engagement-driven ranking of content on social media can be exploited by bad actors seeking to drive disinformation and divisiveness with sensational posts,” Llansó added.

However, for Ralph Schroeder, professor at the Oxford Internet Institute, the policy “is not a long-term strategy for Facebook or other companies, since they also want to be a means for political expression, unless the content is harmful.”

Schroeder notes that “like other digital media, Facebook has problems in dealing with troublesome content,” adding that content moderation for these platforms is an “ongoing dilemma”.

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Political content definition

Under the new policy, Facebook users will have to proactively join a political group, which is a measure intended to avoid the creation of echo chambers and rabbit holes where the algorithm increasingly suggests extremist or harmful content.

This approach is seen as an “improvement” by Josephine Ballon, head of legal at the German NGO HateAid. However, Ballon stresses that “Facebook does not provide a definition of ‘political groups’ or ‘political content’ on their website or in the community guidelines or elsewhere.”

“It is not clear if that includes only content and groups set up directly by political parties or also other initiatives/organisations that are related to a party. Without a public definition the criteria that is used to assess this question is completely untransparent, cannot be verified and we also have to assume that it can be evaded or circumvented easily,” Ballon added.

CDT’s Llansó also urged the social media to empower users to select their preferences, as “ultimately, Facebook should be working towards giving users more control over what’s in their NewsFeeds.

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Discussions on transparency requirements for online platforms’ algorithms and enabling users to modify the preference defined by recommender systems are currently taking place in the context of the EU Digital Services Act.

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Make online platforms accountable for their algorithms, leading MEP says

EU lawmakers will battle over whether online platforms should be required to open their algorithms to scrutiny, making them accountable for fundamental rights violations, after the European Parliament published its initial revisions to the planned Digital Services Act. The new blueprint also includes stronger opt-in and enforcement measures.

Political news outlets

Llansó urged the social network to be transparent in its political content because it “could have huge ramifications for journalism, advocacy, and discussions of political topics in general.”

News media reporting on politics might be the big losers from Facebook’s new policy, as reducing the visibility of political news might mean a drop in traffic for online media. Facebook has acknowledged these concerns and committed to a “gradual and methodical rollout.”

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Wout van Wijk, executive director at News Media Europe, defined Facebook’s approach of suppressing an entire category of content as a “very slippery slope”.

“It seems Facebook cannot get a grip on the proliferation of disinformation and hate speech on its platform and is looking at these rather extreme and damaging measures in an ultimate effort. Once again, it’ll be big tech dictating what type of content is consumed by Europeans, and what not,” van Wijk warned.

[Edited by Benjamin Fox]

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What’s happening: We’re removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

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For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we’re sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you’re an app admin, you’ll receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it’s time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We’ve built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You’ll be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We’ve included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you’ll have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That’s why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we’re able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It’s a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it’s imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

First seen at developers.facebook.com

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